Megara is into her adolescence today and in the last 21 years, she has seen her parents just once! Megara was born in a high security prison in Poonamallee in suburban Chennai where her mother Nalini Murugan was jailed in connection with the assassination of former Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi.
It has been over 2 decades since LTTE suicide bomber Dhanu detonated an RDX explosive laden belt that killed Rajiv Gandhi and 14 others. The Gandhi family has come in terms with the tragedies that haunted the family over the years. Long forgotten the history where political decisions cost lives and shattered the dreams of many. Years down the line, forgiveness paved way for a new beginning when Sonia intervened to commute Nalini’s death sentence to life imprisonment and when Priyanka met Nalini at the Vellore Central Prison which Nalini explained a life changing visit.
However, after suffering imprisonment for the past 20 years, death seems to be just a span away for Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan as President Pratibha Patil rejected their mercy petition in Gandhi’s killing. Rajiv Gandhi was killed during an election rally in Sriperumbudur near Chennai on May 21, 1991 which was orchestrated ordered by LTTE. In 1999, Supreme Court had confirmed the death sentence of four accused in the case – Nalini, Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan. Later Nalini’s death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment at the intervention of Sonia Gandhi, Rajiv’s widow.
There has been a hue and cry over the decision to impose death penalty to the trio on September 9. The Tamil Nadu Assembly has unanimously adopted a resolution for commuting the death sentence of the three accused. Presenting the case of the convicts, senior lawyer and politician Ram Jethmalani argued mercy petition of the assassins was rejected by the President after 11 years and four months. He said the delay is prima facie wrong and a notice seeking explanation should be sent. Hearing the petition, the Madras high court stayed hanging of the three convicts facing the gallows to eight weeks.
The political parties are intensifying their campaign to reprieve the death order and many across the country shares the opinion that the capital punishment should be recalled. Syed Abdul Rahman Geelani, who was acquitted in the Parliament attack case, argued that no law permits a death sentence and said he is against the capital punishment. The Sikh Students Federation has pleaded for the cancellation of the death penalty in a written statement. People from different walks of life including politicians, social activists, intellectuals and writers have urged the central government to remove the death sentence from the Indian penal laws.
However, it’s a big question before the Indian minds to let this happen or not? Are we going to pursue the practice of death penalty and will all the criminals who deserve gallows would face it? Capital punishment is never a punishment, rather an escape for the criminals. It relieves them from the pain they ought to undergo and denies them the opportunity to repent. So, what do you think their fate should be?
- Madras HC gives lease of life to Rajiv Gandhi’s killers – Hindustan Times (news.google.com)
- Daughter’s plea (bbc.co.uk)
- Rajiv Gandhi’s killers get 8 weeks’ breather from Madras HC – Hindustan Times (news.google.com)
- You: Indian court stays hanging of Rajiv Gandhi killers (nation.com.pk)
- Gandhi plotters’ execution stayed (bbc.co.uk)